Overrated Travel Destinations with Amazing Alternatives Right Around the Corner
Everyone looks for something different in an ideal vacation, but most people can agree that long lines and endless waits aren’t part of anyone’s dream getaway. Obviously, some destinations feature awe-inspiring sights that truly demand to be seen, but the problem is everyone in the world knows about these places.
But what if you could experience the same type of wonder — minus the overwhelming crowds — simply by veering slightly off course? We’ve put together a list of popular "must-see" destinations that actually have an equally impressive, much less crowded alternative right around the corner. Take a look!
Skip: Hollywood Walk of Fame
Believe it or not, Hollywood isn’t teeming with celebrity encounters. Easy-to-recognize stars don’t spend much time walking around in tourist areas. The only major studio located nearby is Paramount Pictures. Instead of your favorite movie star, you are sure to find busloads of tourists and a depressing number of homeless individuals.
See: Hollywood Reservoir Trail or Beverly Hills
Hiking the Hollywood Reservoir path is a much better, off-the-radar Hollywood experience. The flat 3.3-mile trail provides unique views of the iconic Hollywood Sign, and the paved loop around the reservoir is accessible from Lake Hollywood Drive. Be sure to check closure times to avoid getting locked in.
Skip: New England's Peep Show
Okay, it’s not that kind of peep show! Nature lovers know that "leaf peeping" in New England is as synonymous with fall as pumpkin spice. Unfortunately, unpredictable weather can throw a wrench into these travel plans. With a window of only a couple of weeks, "peepers" flock to the Northeast in droves at this time.
See: The Ozarks in the Fall
Travelers heading to New England to view the gorgeous fall leaves could end up disappointed, but the region still has plenty to see and do year-round. As long as you plan according to the season, it’s a great area to visit — but maybe at a less crowded time.
Skip: Daytona Beach
A relaxing beach vacation isn't the scene you find at Daytona. As a mecca for spring breakers and NASCAR fans, this is where people go to get loud and rowdy. On the other hand, it’s on the Atlantic side of the state, which boasts rougher waters better suited for surfing along Daytona Beach.
See: Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach is a much more tranquil choice, and TripAdvisor recently ranked it "#1 Beach in the U.S." Located on the Gulf side of Florida, the waters are calm, and the sand is as soft and white as powdered sugar. Even better, the sand is cool to the touch, so no burned feet!
Skip: Loch Ness
Unless you love conspiracy theories or are looking for kitschy souvenirs, Loch Ness is just another lake. Scotland has much prettier areas — just without the mystique of lake monsters, of course. Crowds gravitate to the loch year-round, but they don't find anything beyond scenic views.
See: Loch Awe
For an unforgettable Highland experience, Loch Awe is where you should be heading on your Scottish tour. Measuring 25 miles long, it is Scotland’s longest freshwater loch. Much of the area surrounding it offers the magical feel of an unexplored wilderness.
Oh, Prague! Does anyone else remember how obsessed Rory Gilmore was with the city throughout the run of Gilmore Girls? It’s a cultural center for indie writers, artists and hipsters alike — and that is exactly what makes Prague so overrated. The Czech Republic capital draws so many tourists that it’s almost impossible to avoid crowds.
See: Riga, Latvia
Riga, Latvia, is off the radar for travelers to Europe, making this city tragically underrated. As the largest of the Baltic States and more than 900 years old, Latvia is rich with culture and beauty. The blend of Art Nouveau and medieval architecture in Riga earned it recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Skip: Egyptian Pyramids
The great pyramids at Giza are impressive architectural feats, but, sadly, the glory days of seeing them have passed. Previously, lines to visit the pyramids were their own special brand of hell, as they stretched through the scorching desert.
See: Temple of Dendur in NYC
Since the last remaining "wonder of the ancient world" is no longer a safe travel destination, you might want to consider a domestic alternative. Commissioned by Petronius, the Roman governor of Egypt around 15 BC, the Temple of Dendur once overlooked the Nile River in Tuzis (known as Dendur today).
Skip: Plymouth Rock
American history buffs find a particular sense of patriotism in the lore of Plymouth Rock. After all, 400 years ago, the Pilgrims disembarked from the Mayflower after spending months crossing the Atlantic. Legend dictates this rock is where they first stepped on land in the New World.
See: Plimoth Plantation
For a better take on early American history, venture down to Plimoth Plantation. This living history museum has delighted field trip groups and tourists since 1947. The "English Village" is set to mimic 1624, with historical interpreters dressing and speaking as if they are still in that period. They are trained to not break character to provide an immersive experience for visitors.
Skip: Four Corners
Not all overhyped tourist destinations attract huge crowds. This one is actually far enough in the middle of nowhere that you will probably only wait in line 10 to 15 minutes to see it. Still, it isn't all that exciting once you finally make it. Yes, you can stand where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah all meet. The spot also overlaps three sovereign nations: the U.S., Navajo Nation and Ute Nation.
See: Grand Canyon
If you do find yourself in the middle of America's Southwest, then definitely stop at the Grand Canyon. For only $30, you can drive as many as 15 people into the national park to experience some of the most amazing sights ever created. Plus, your pass is good for seven days if you want to take your time and explore this natural wonder.
The legendary Versailles Palace is as beautiful as the hype claims. Unfortunately, everyone and their cousin knows this and wants to go see it. That means you can expect to see more of the backs of people’s heads than the "Hall of Mirrors."
See: Rundāle Palace
Known as the "Versailles of Latvia," Rundāle Palace offers a perfect alternative to the better-known French counterpart. This palace was an early design of Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, who went on to build the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg.
Skip: South of the Border
If you’ve ever driven down the East Coast, you’ve seen the miles and miles of billboards for South of the Border. After passing dozens of them, you might be tempted to check out the hype. Don't. Just keep driving.
See: Kings Dominion
Travelers on the East Coast need to venture a little north to Doswell, Virginia, where they can find the 400-acre Kings Dominion amusement park. The park hosts more than 60 rides, including one of the largest collections of roller coasters.
Skip: New York's Little Italy
Is there a more popular U.S. foodie mecca than New York City? The melting pot nature of the city means authentic fare in nearly every cuisine imaginable. However, don’t let the name of this particular area fool you. Little Italy is more of a tourist trap than a zone for delicious Italian eats.
See: Boston's North End
Now if you want real Italian-American food, you need to head a few hours east to Boston. As a city that is altogether underrated in comparison to New York, Boston is where Italian restaurants are still family-owned by locals. Hanover Street in the North End is one of those magical places where every restaurant is good.
Skip: The Alamo
While this sounds like blasphemy to any native Texan, the Alamo isn't all that impressive in person. The story of the Alamo is amazing, and it would be hard to find a more beloved place that inspires such pride in a battle that was lost, but the building itself is simply underwhelming. You can skip the inside altogether, as there's not much to see unless you really insist on seeing a few artifacts.
See: San Antonio River Walk
Instead of wasting time at the Alamo, experience the unique blend of culture San Antonio offers with a little stroll. Once home to the Payaya people, San Antonio draws influence from its original Spanish settlers and its later German immigrants. The culture of each ethnicity has melded into a beautiful flavor that isn’t found elsewhere.
While Amsterdam has a certain appeal in some circles, visitors looking for more than a "good trip" are sure to be disappointed. In a word, the city is dirty — and not just in a sexual way via the Red Light District and its connections to human trafficking and violence against women.
Maastricht is where to go for an enjoyable Dutch experience that is inspired by Spanish, Roman, French and Belgian influences. Unlike the lackluster buildings in Amsterdam, Maastricht architecture boasts both medieval and futuristic designs.
Skip: Sistine Chapel
As the center for one of the biggest religions in the world, Vatican City attracts people from all walks of life. Even for the devout, the level of opulence found here can seem overwhelming when compared to the greater world scene. Every surface is dripping with gold, velvet and jewels as a testament to great wealth. It’s beautiful but also inspires a little discomfort for anyone who is remotely philanthropic.
See: The Louvre
Instead of battling the crowds for that one ceiling, head on over to the Louvre in Paris for more world-famous art than you can see in a single day. Don't overlook the ceilings in this palace museum, either.
Skip: The Blarney Stone
Do you know what everyone needs, especially after all the recent turmoil and fear? To share germs by kissing the same rock, of course. Irish tradition dictates that visitors bend over backwards to kiss the Blarney Stone. What will you receive for your efforts? The gift of speech and who knows how many nasty viruses!
See: Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
Instead of risking catching a potentially deadly disease, step back in time with a stop at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Built in 1425, this castle was once home to Vikings. It boasts of being "the most complete and authentic castle in Ireland." For a few hours, you can live like a lord by partaking of a true medieval four-course feast within the castle.